Byfuglien will play defense
in one of the strangest NHL moves of the offseason, even after big buff destroyed people in the corners and couldn't be moved from the net, the atlanta thrasher found a way before the season even begins to neutralize this!
Byfuglien will play defense
Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley told me two weeks ago that he would like to see Dustin Byfuglien move back to defense, his original position. In doing so, he left one caveat. The final decision would be up to new coach Craig Ramsay.
That decision has been made.
Ramsay said Friday that Byfuglien will come to training camp as a defenseman.
“Dustin Byfuglien will have a chance to play defense,” Ramsay said. “I’ve been told he is a defenseman, he was a defenseman. That was his position and he likes it. He wants to be there. I will give him every opportunity to show us he can play defense. If he can do that, wonderful. That’s great. I look at our defense and I think it can be our strength, a strong point. If Buff can go in and be big and strong on defense, that would be awesome. If it doesn’t work, he’ll go up front. There is no reason we wouldn’t give him every good, solid chance to play the position and find out if he can. That would really solidify us on the back end.”
As a forward, Byfuglien scored 17 regular-season goals for Chicago last season. He scored 11 goals in 22 playoff games en route to the Stanley Cup. Byfuglien was traded to Atlanta in the off-season – one of four players from the championship team to join the Thrashers.
Such a move would seemingly set the top six defensemen of Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya, Brent Sopel and Byfuglien. That would mean players such as Boris Valabik, Freddy Meyer, Arturs Kulda, Jaime Sifers and Andrey Zubarev are in competition for another spot when training camp begins next week. Ramsay said he doesn’t intend to carry players on the roster that aren’t going to play on a regular basis.
“I think he’s more of a defenseman,” Ramsay continued about Byfuglien, who has not reported early for voluntary workouts after the Stanley Cup winning run. “We already have people we think can play [defense]. That just makes it a little more difficult picking your team on the blue line. Sopel can play. Hainsey can play. Enstrom, Bogosian, Oduya, those guys I know. They can all play. Some of the young kids, just watching them fiddling around [in voluntary workouts], get around the ice very well which is what we want to accomplish from our blue line. We have some pieces already. Rick has created some depth in this organization that we should be in pretty good shape on the blue line. Wouldn’t it be great if you looked at your team and said we are good on the blue line, people can’t pick on us. Get the puck out of your end and start getting up ice.